Average Annual Income for a Freelancer in the U.S.

The fact is that more than one in three (35%) Americans freelanced in 2018, amounting to 56.7 million independent employees. More than 51 percent of freelancers say no amount of money would get them to take a traditional job.


Freelancing has become a popular option for professionals looking for more control over their health, career and life quality.  The freedom to work from anywhere is a great incentive. But what’s the reality of earning a living of being a freelancer?


Payoneer, a global payment platform, surveyed more than 23,000 freelancers from 180 countries. According to Payoneer’s data, the average freelancer works 36 hours a week at a rate of $21 per hour, giving them an annual pretax salary of more than $39,000, which is higher than the average non-freelance wages in most countries. 


Jonny Steel, vice president of marketing at Payoneer, said companies who hire freelancers favor experience and client reviews over formal education. 


“The beauty of the Internet is that as long as you’re connected, you have access to an almost infinite amount of knowledge. People can learn skills from watching online tutorials, reading e-books and following the latest trends on top-notch blogs. So when it comes to making an impact on the freelance marketplaces, it matters a lot less where you acquired your skills from, as long as you can do the job.” Steel told Business News Daily asserts. 


Scott Galit, CEO of Payoneer asserts that “Today’s hyper-connected,  borderless world has created unprecedented work opportunities for talented professionals…There’s an obvious appeal to freelancing — businesses worldwide can tap into a larger and more diverse talent pool than ever before, and … freelancers and service providers [can] secure work with international companies,” Galit said in a statement. “Freelancing offers smart, talented, hardworking professionals and business owners in emerging economies such as Argentina, Bangladesh, India, the Philippines and Serbia a major breakthrough in job prospects and earning potential that they would have never thought possible a few years ago.”


For freelancers who want to market themselves better, Steel advised creating a presence across multiple freelancing networks and asking clients to leave reviews on those sites. He also noted that branding yourself and promoting your work through a blog and social media channels can help you gain exposure, credibility and ultimately, business growth….Many of the most successful entrepreneurs we come across just keep growing, and it’s because they’re bold and eager to promote themselves. Companies will be more drawn to you.”


Q: What Is the Average Annual Income for a Freelancer in the U.S.?

A separate study by Payoneer found that the average freelancer in the U.S. earns $31 an hour compared to $26.30 an hour for all American employees in 2017.

The chart below compares the average hourly rate, the average annual income, and the average weekly hours worldwide in 9  popular freelance niches.


Writing and Translation
Average hourly rate: $48 and $47
Average annual income: $61,419 and $59,545
Weekly hours worked (worldwide): 34

Technical writers are likely to earn more than basic copywriters. If you are interested,  consider joining the Editorial Freelancer’s Association and visit sites such as ZipRecruiter and FreelanceWriting.com. 

image source

image source

Most Writers Make Less Than $250 Per Article

Who Pays Writers (WPW) is a fantastic resource full of crowdsourced pay rates. Writers have recorded their experiences with many publications including The Atlantic, Buzzfeed, XOJane, and more. There were over 500 publications included in their database. 

The Top 10% of writers make more than four  or even five times the average. According to data on the Pay Per Article, the average pay per article is about $380. The harsh truth is that over 76% of writers making less than the average. The finding shows that the majority of income is made by the few or the top 5%. 


#“pay per word”, “approximate word count”, “type of article”, “workload and type of relationship”  “time to be paid”  #struggling freelance writer


More: The 20 Most Famous Freelancers



IT and Programming
Average hourly rate: $49
Average annual income (U.S.): $68,292
Weekly hours worked (worldwide): 37.4

types: IT Support, Mobile Programming, Web Programming, Database Programming, Game Programming, and Developer QA Testing. The pays are generally higher in tech, and you can charge more depending on your specialties. Toptal is a freelance staffing service that focuses on tech positions.


Design and Multimedia
Average hourly rate: $41
Average annual income: $56,101
Weekly hours worked (worldwide): 36.5

types: Graphic Designers, Web Designers, Illustrators, and Multimedia Producers. Behance has hundreds of active design listings.



Sales and Marketing
Average hourly rate: $44
Average annual income: $61,572
Weekly hours worked (worldwide): 37

more info: Search the LinkedIn Jobs section


Engineering and Manufacturing

Average hourly rate: $56
Average annual income: $79,867
Weekly hours worked (worldwide): 38.2





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